Occupied Hadrut is undeniable proof of Azerbaijan’s policy of hatred and ethnic cleansing against Armenians, Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan said in a statement on the anniversary of the occupation of Hadrut.
“The entire Hadrut region of the Republic of Artsakh, one of the most important settlements with a permanent Armenian population, which has been inhabited by Armenians for centuries as documented in many historical sources and materials, has been under Azerbaijani occupation for a year,” the Stepanyan said, adding that the area that makes up the Hadrut region of the Artsakh Republic was in Soviet times part of the Hadrut region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, where more than 90 percent of the 15,000 population were Armenians, according to the 1979 census.
“As a result of the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression against Artsakh on September 27, 2020, the Armenian population of the town of Hadrut and the eponymous region was completely subjected to ethnic cleansing. From the very first day of the aggression, the civilian population, civilian infrastructures, and structures of humanitarian significance of Hadrut were deliberately and indiscriminately targeted by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces,” Stepanyan added.
He said 32 civilians from the Hadrut Region were killed as a result of Azerbaijani missile attacks, torture, and inhumane actions, including 73-year-old Benik Hakobyan and 25-year-old Yuri Adamyan, who were publicly killed in the Hadrut town square after being captured by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.
“Because of the ongoing occupation, 14,000 residents of the region have been displaced from their homes. They lost their assets and property, work, and all their belongings,” said Stepanyan, who added the 48 Armenian settlements have been cleansed of their Armenian presence and houses and property belonging to the Armenians have been vandalized and looted.”
“Before the Azerbaijani occupation, there were six kindergartens and 26 schools in the region with 2,030 students who are now deprived of their right to education as a result of displacement. Due to the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population of Hadrut, tangible and intangible cultural values created by the Armenians are not endangered. More than 500 significant historical and cultural monuments – churches, monasteries, khachkars, sanctuaries, are under immediate threat of extinction,” added Stepanyan.
“Azerbaijani authorities are desecrating the spiritual and cultural values created by the indigenous Armenian population of the region, as evidenced by a video widely circulated on social media sites, in which the president of Azerbaijan overtly commands to remove Armenian inscriptions from the church in Tsakuri village,” he noted.
“Research by Armenian and international organizations for the protection of cultural values prove that all the Armenian cemeteries in all settlements of Hadrut are being demolished and destroyed and the gravestones are being used as building materials for roads,” explained Stepanyan. “Due to the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population, community life and traditions have been disrupted in all settlements of the region, and as a result of the dispersal of the displaced population, the Hadrut dialect, which is unique among the Armenian dialects is also endangered.”
Unfortunately, he said, even a year after the occupation, the reports and numerous calls about large-scale violations of the rights of the Armenian population of Hadrut and other occupied communities of Artsakh, have not yet received proper attention and assessment by the international community, individual states, and human rights organizations.
“The international community has a direct obligation and responsibility to ensure the protection of the rights of the Armenian population and guarantee their return to their native lands,” Stepanyan stated.